Delia tears into transport minister: ‘Too many cars, too many road deaths, too little action’

Opposition MPs call for cross-party agreement on efficient mass transport system to address traffic congestion on the roads

Opposition transport spokesperson Adrian Delia
Opposition transport spokesperson Adrian Delia

Adrian Delia delivered an impassioned critique of Aaron Farrugia’s transport ministry on Monday, lamenting government’s inaction over this year’s record road deaths and traffic congestion.

The Opposition spokesperson accused government of failing to address the problems hounding the transport sector and called for a cross-party approach to find long-term solutions.

“The minister has to acknowledge the problems and not find excuses to justify the current situation,” Delia said with a reference to the Transport Minister’s comment during the summer that traffic congestion was the result of village feasts.

Delia was speaking in the parliamentary session on Monday morning during which the budget estimates for the transport ministry were discussed.

He reiterated that the record number of road deaths this year required concrete action: “We’ve ended up talking about tragedies rather than about congestion but what is the minister planning on doing apart from dishing out platitudes?”

He hit out at Transport Malta, which he branded “scandal Malta”, making reference to the driving test corruption case currently being heard in court.

“How many of these road deaths and accidents were caused by people who obtained their driving licences fraudulently because of political interference? Who shall shoulder political responsibility for this?”

He also made reference to the more recent claims of corruption linked to the Marsa junction project. This was symptomatic of government’s way of doing things, he added.

“Instead of seeing what the country needs and developing projects to address those needs, government looks at the interests of those close to it and develops projects tailored to suit their needs not those of the country,” Delia hit out.

He lamented that the number of cars on Malta’s roads was increasing at an alarming rate. “Peak hour is every hour,” he remarked but stopped short of proposing a clamp down on private car use.

“We need more education to encourage young people to use alternative means of transport; we need more parking lots in commercial centres; we need to start a meaningful discussion on a mass transport system, which you have abandoned after putting up an expensive roadshow on the metro before the election,” Delia said.

The Opposition spokesperson applauded the government for putting the Gozo tunnel project on the backburner, insisting it should be put off for ever to save Gozo from ruin.

READ ALSO: Metro’s financial feasibility being studied by Transport Malta, Aaron Farrugia says

Opposition infrastructure spokesperson Ryan Callus
Opposition infrastructure spokesperson Ryan Callus

‘Maturity needed for cross-party agreement on mass transport’ – Ryan Callus

Opposition Infrastructure spokesperson Ryan Callus also called for cross-party agreement on a mass transport system that can never be completed within five years.

“We on the Opposition benches are ready to sit down and talk because unless we start investing in a mass transport system this country’s roads will be totally gridlocked in a few years’ time,” Callus said.

He welcomed free public transport but this was not a long-term solution since buses used the same road space as private cars and were getting stuck in traffic.

“This government has to stop blaming others for its failures… the transport and infrastructure portfolios could have a serious impact on the economy, pollution, road deaths… I appeal for maturity to start serious cross-party talks on a long-term mass transport system that offers value for money,” Callus said.

Similar calls were made by Opposition MPs Toni Bezzina and Ivan Castillo.